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Tue, April 23

Column: Pets can stay in bedroom but don’t belong on bed

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

What do you think about pets in the bedroom and bed? My wife likes to sleep with the dog in the bed. I am having problems with this since I am a very light sleeper and feel this is interfering with my sleep.

A: That is an excellent and timely question. The answer depends on the individual. Mayo Clinic recently published a survey on pets in the bedroom. They found that over 50 percent of pet owners allow their pets to sleep in the bedroom. 20 percent found their presence disruptive to their sleep while 41 percent did not, and even thought it beneficial to their sleep. Therefore, the bottom line is that it is an individual issue. I would discuss this with your wife. Maybe a good compromise would be to allow the pet to sleep in the bedroom on his own bed or in a crate, but not in the bed. See if that works. If not, your sleep is really more important than anything else is.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can exercise help with insomnia? I have been trying to get my husband to start an exercise program. He is overweight, depressed, and sleeps very poorly. What do you think?

A: Great idea. There are several recent studies showing that regular moderate exercise, such as walking 30 minutes a day, promotes sleep. In one study, after 16 weeks, those with insomnia who exercised were able to fall asleep and stay asleep much longer than a control group practicing sleep hygiene alone.

We believe exercise increases body temperature and stimulates the later drop in temperature that signals the onset of sleep. We also know that exercise decreases anxiety and depression and improves immune function--all of which can promote better sleep.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

What time would you recommend night owls get up and go to bed, if they’re not stretching the envelope?

A: Night owls should go to bed when they are sleepy. Advising a night owl to go to bed at a certain time that conflicts with their inherent circadian rhythms will not work. They need to discover what time they actually get sleepy when all electronics are off. Sometimes a vacation is the best time to reacquaint ourselves with our natural circadian rhythms. However, they need to take into account when they need to be up in the morning and try to guarantee themselves at least 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep. Night owls tend to drift to later and later bedtimes, so once established, stick to a set sleep/wake schedule.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is there an optimal time for night owls to perform cognitive tasks — say, writing or diagnosing a patient? In addition, how about morning people?

A: As a rule, night owls are more alert later in the day and perform better in the evening. Most morning people do not do well after 10 p.m. A night owl who regularly goes to bed at 2 a.m. will probably be most alert after 10 p.m. The problem is that night owls attempt to do more and more later and later and thus progressively delay their bedtime until it may be out of control. In either case, electronics, televisions, etc., should be shut down 60 minutes before bedtime.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers’ questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him through the form at www.answersforsleep.com or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.

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